The Chinese Communist Party on Thursday selected China’s new leadership headed by Mr. Xi Jinping. He will lead not only the party as general secretary of the party’s Central Committee but also the military as chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission. He is expected to be elected China’s president, with Mr. Li Keqiang as premier, in March during a session of the National People’s Congress.
Mr. Xi inherits the country from his predecessor, Mr. Hu Jintao, when it is at a crossroads. Although it is now the world’s No. 2 economy, it is suffering from a great rich-poor gap, serious environmental disruption, widespread corruption and ethnic problems.
There were times that China’s economy enjoyed two-digit growth. But this year it is expected to grow only 7.8 percent.
“The Scientific Outlook on Development,” the party’s new “theoretical guidance,” which is the legacy of the outgoing Mr. Hu and is aimed at achieving sustainable and balanced growth, sums up what the new Chinese leadership must accomplish.
It is an enormous task for the leadership of a country with a population of 1.34 billion. To prove his quality as leader, Mr. Xi needs to develop a concrete mechanism to address and lessen people’s grievances and complaints.
To break vested interests, he needs to establish the rule of law, strengthen democratic processes and introduce a system to monitor and restrain state power and the behavior of officials.
He may face difficulty in his reform efforts because the majority of the all-powerful, seven-member Politburo Standing Committee is believed to be under the influence of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, a leader of the old guard.
Mr. Xi enumerated the issues that he must tackle when he said, “Our people have an ardent love of life. They wish to have better education, more stable jobs, more income, greater social security, better medical and health care, improved housing conditions and a better environment.” His worth as leader will be measured by whether he can meet these aspirations of the people.
In the international community, China’s rapid military buildup and its hardline policy aimed at protecting its maritime interests are causing worries among neighboring countries. If China is obsessed with pushing this line of policy, it will lose trustworthiness in the international community. Mr. Xi should pursue the establishment of cooperative relations with other countries.
He said, “In modern times … China has endured untold hardships and sufferings, and its very survival has hung in the balance … Our responsibility now is to rally and lead the entire Party and the people of all ethnic groups in China in taking over the relay baton passed on to us by history.”
He may be hinting that he will take a hardline stance toward Japan over the issue of Senkaku Islands sovereignty. It must be remembered that taking an anti-Japan attitude is a sure way to secure one’s legitimacy in Chinese politics.
Japan should make serious efforts to develop channels of communication with China at various levels and consider imaginative ways to resolve the current diplomatic crisis with China while maintaining a resolute attitude.